The owner of this purse told me she purchased it new about 20 years ago, which would put the year of the manufacture date somewhere around 1999.
[Update: owner got back to me and pinned it down a little further, she purchased it in Paris on a trip to Europe in 2001.]
I have known for years that these Louis Vuitton purses often contain high levels of Lead (I mention this at a lot of my testing parties, and also whenever I see one of these purses “in the wild”.)
Lead can be found in many of the metal hardware components of the Louis Vuitton pieces as well as the leather and fabric elements of the purses and wallets. Nearly EVERY ONE OF THESE that I have tested has had at least one component that was very high Lead. I tested a different one this month that had a snap that was more than 17,000 ppm Lead – and the gold plating (on what is apparently a Leaded brass base for the snap) was wearing off!
Please note, in this post I am referring to the actual branded (authentic) Louis Vuitton bags. Not knock off bags.
While I don’t personally use purses (I am a “washable canvas bag” girl myself), I am disappointed that a brand name that so many people trust has such a consistent issue with toxicants in their (very high-end) products. You would think that at this price point, consumers could expect purses to be Lead-free (and Arsenic-free, for that matter), but that is simply not true.
An interesting irony: in my experience testing consumer goods, it is more often than not the high-end purses (the more expensive ones) that test positive for Lead, Mercury, Cadmium and Arsenic; the lower end (cheaper / more affordable ones) are often free of those heavy metals.
To my knowledge, there is no current (national or international) standard or limit for XRF-detectable Lead content in leather purses. The context I use for concern about these items is that, while purses may not be regulated, items intended for use by children ARE regulated. This becomes a relevant concern in that children often grab or play with their mother’s purse — and if mama is carrying her baby on her hip, many/most babies will sometimes grab the strap or clasp to her purse and start teething or chewing or mouthing it .
The amount of Lead that is considered toxic in a newly manufactured item intended for use by children is anything 90 ppm Lead or higher (in the paint, coating or glaze) or anything 100 ppm or higher in the substrate. A purse is not considered to be an item intended to be used by children.
Think kids don’t also play with these high end purses and handbags? Think again! Any mama with a baby will usually let her baby play with their bag (no matter how fancy the bag), and some mamas will even buy smaller versions of these bags for their children to play with! Here’s a link to a video (from Kylie Jenner) that shows her baby Stormi playing with her new Louis Vuitton bag!
Note: I have not tested the exact purse shown in Kylie’s video, but would love to pop over to her house and test all of the purses in her “purse closet“! Hey Kylie (& Kim & Khloe!), I’m in the neighborhood for another week! Let me help you protect your babies! ;-).
The exact readings for the purse pictured here (with a 30-second measurement using an Niton XRF instrument – an XL3T in “consumer goods” mode) were as follows (on the leather / fabric part of of the purse – not the hardware or straps):
- Lead (Pb): 5,943 +/- 144 ppm
- Arsenic (As): 258 +/-121 ppm
- Barium (Ba): 230 +/- 63 ppm
- Chromium (Cr): 2,327 +/- 252 ppm
- Antimony (Sb): 34 +/- 20 ppm
We should be able to expect better from “trusted” brand names. It will be interesting to see how the company responds to this post!
As always, please let me know if you have any questions.
Thank you for reading and for sharing my posts.